The Cleveland Guardians acquired first baseman Josh Bell in hopes that he could provide protection and power in the middle of the lineup. The MLBbro bomber didn’t have much luck in a 3-0 Opening Day loss to the Seattle Mariners. In fact, nobody in the Guardians lineup did, but don’t expect that to be the norm. When Bell gets hot, he can carry a lineup for several weeks. 

 

 

Is Josh Bell Right Fit For Cleveland Guardians?

 

Cleveland certainly believes so after signing Bell in free agency to a two-year $33 million contract.

Cleveland finished second to last in the majors in home runs and they were in the middle of the pack when it came to producing RBI. Bell’s resume with the bat shows that he has the potential to clean up the bases. 

Josh Bell bombs atomically.

Socrates’ philosophies and hypotheses could not define Bell’s power when he broke out in 2019, putting up 37 home runs and 116 RBI for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He would earn his first All-Star nod that same year for his efforts.

Cleveland signed Bell hoping he can duplicate his Pittsburgh numbers and repeat his performance during the first half of the 2022 season. During the first half of last season, Bell knocked 14 homers while putting up a slash line of .301/.384/.493 with the Washington Nationals.

 

However, his numbers dropped significantly to 192/.316/.271 after being traded to the San Diego Padres. He only registered three more home runs in the regular season before heating up in the 2022 postseason where he batted .353.

 

 

Despite his struggles, Bell was still making solid contact with the ball. The switch-hitter only struck out at a rate of 15.8 percent. His second half slump was due to the conditions at San Diego’s Petco Park (a notoriously tough place for pull hitters). Another roadblock was the defensive shift, a thorn in the side of many left-handed batters.

Josh Bell Excited About Shift Expulsion 

“I think next year, the sky’s the limit for a lot of lefties with the shift going away,” Bell said in a Zoom conference. “You’ll get rewarded for hard contact to the pull side a little bit more, so I won’t shy away from that contact as much as I have in the past. Hopefully the numbers will jump in regards to the home runs again and the average will be there, too.

 

Josh Bell Did Just Enough In 2022 To Become The New Bro Bomber For A Cleveland Guardians 2023 Title Run

 

 

Out of his 552 at-bats in 2022, 371 were left-handed. Now, with the expulsion of the shift, all bets will be off, especially in situations where runners are in scoring position. Combining the new rule change with Cleveland’s speedy baserunners makes Bell’s new home a dream scenario for him.

 

“For me personally, you look at the top three in the order, you got three guys that have stolen 20 (or so) bases and that’s before the bases get bigger and before pitchers have three strikes and you’re out in regards to pickoff moves,” said Bell in a Zoom conference. “So, the numbers will go up there, as well.

“For me, as a middle-of-the-order guy, I’d love to slot myself in the lineup where I’m gonna have runners in scoring position quite often and it’s definitely an exciting time for me offensively.”

 

Bell’s new situation gives him better opportunities to protect batters such as third baseman Jose Ramirez. Bell expects to have a one-two punch in the lineup with the fellow switch-hitter. The Cleveland brass expects the pairing of the dynamic duo to be fruitful for the team’s run production.

 

“It’s tough to not get that itch, get that want to play with José Ramirez,” Bell said to the Akron Beacon Journal. “Prodigious, best switch hitter in the league for a long time there. So, hopefully we can learn from each other, I can hit behind him and what did he have, like 120 RBIs last year? Hopefully he saved some for me. But if we’re both over 100 I think we’ll be in a good place.”

 

 

 

Bell also adds more depth for the Guardians where he will be slated to spend time between DH (a position where the team struggled) and first base. Depending on team strategy he will split time between those two positions with fellow MLBbro Josh Naylor. 

 

“I haven’t played a whole lot of games at DH,” Bell said to reporters at GuardsFest 2023. “I think that when I’m locked in offensively it doesn’t matter if I’m in the field or not. It kind of comes and goes but I think that if you find the right routine, whether if you’re in the field or hitting in the cages in between innings, it’s easier to keep it [offensive consistency]. Regardless of where Terry [Francona] slates me I think I’ll be ready for this year”

 

In spite of the drop off in his raw power numbers with the Padres, Josh Bell still has the potential to give the Guardians a huge return on their investment. The 6 ‘4 260-pound slugger has shown that he is capable of crushing 30 plus home runs and that his slump with San Diego could be considered as an aberration. The opt-out clause in the first year of his two-year contract is a source of motivation for Bell to perform well and seek a larger contract post-2023. For the Cleveland faithful’s sake, Bell’s motivation could be a vehicle for the Guardians to hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy in 2023. 

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